Story Summary

Man Lived with Dead Body for Months

Devon Epps was evicted from his Stockton apartment, and when the landlord went back inside, they found a rotting dead body.

Epps is accused of living with the dead body for months. The body is of Veronica Jones, who knew Epps.

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STOCKTON-

Devon Epps, the man convicted of murdering his girlfriend an living with her decomposing body for months, was sentenced to life in prison Monday and signed his appeal paperwork with something other than his name.

Epps, known for his outbursts in court, signed “F*** You” on his final piece of paperwork.

Epps’ life without parole sentence is too light for the family of his victim, 35-year-old Veronica Jones.

“It’s very sad we lost her, especially at such a young age and we can’t hang out the way we used to anymore,” said Jones’ cousin, Isaac Zuniga. “I believe that Devon should suffer the same way he made my sister suffer.”

Epps was spared from the death penalty because of his history with mental illness.

“I’m relieved that he’s off the streets and can no longer harm, hurt or harass any other women or children or anybody for that matter any more,” Zuniga said.

Epps will soon be transferred to a state prison from the San Joaquin County Jail to serve out his sentence.

Jones

Veronica Jones is the woman found dead inside a Stockton apartment.
(File photo)

STOCKTON-

Blows to the head with a metal table pedestal, a vicious rape with a foreign object and 32 stab wounds is what the Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa said killed 35-year-old Veronica Jones. Her decomposed body was found in the bathroom of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Devon Epps, who’s suspected of murdering Jones.

No cameras were allowed inside the courtroom on Friday, the first day of the trial. But jurors saw for themselves graphic crime scene photos of Jones’ ravaged and rotted corpse, believe to have been there for several months.

Epps held his head, and looked downward, after Judge Bernard Garber ruled to allow the photos in the case.

“I believe the law is supposed to protect victims and I don’t think my sister was being protected,” Jones’ brother, Isaac Zuniga said, who testified in court.

Police also testified that a missing person’s report was taken at the end of June 2011.

But, officers didn’t physically go to the apartment to check on Jones until family reported her missing the next month. But cops never entered the apartment.

“The only thing they told me is that it’s not a crime to be missing, that they have a right not to talk to family or friends, and she was basically not missing,” Zuniga said.

A CPS social worker also testified that Jones had weekly supervised visits with her 2-year-old son, and called whenever she couldn’t make it.

She last called them June 2 of last year.

“When suddenly stopped visiting her son, and suddenly stopped contacting friends and family, that was the cue for me that something was wrong,” Zuniga added.

Jones’ body was discovered Dec. 5, more than six months later.

Sam Cohen contributed to this report

Local News
11/30/12

Jury Selection in Case of Man who Lived with Dead Body

DevonEpps

Devon Epps during a December 2011 court appearance

STOCKTON-

A jury is being selected in Stockton to hear the murder case against a man accused of living with the dead body of a former girlfriend for months.

Devon Epps was evicted from his apartment in December 2011. The next day, when the apartment manager stopped by, they found a dead body in the bathroom.

The body had been there awhile, and was rotting.

Epps was arrested and then arraigned a few days later; yelling and interrupting the San Joaquin County judge at his court appearance.

Investigators identified the body as Veronica Jones, who was last seen at a family function with Epps in May 2011.

STOCKTON-

A man facing murder charges and is accused of living with a dead body for months, made outbursts during his arraignment Thursday in Stockton.

Devon Epps was evicted from his apartment on Channel Street Sunday. When the apartment manager went to check it out Monday morning, he found a dead body wrapped up in the bathroom. He told FOX40 it was clear the body had been dead for a while.

Epps was arrested Wednesday morning and booked into jail for murder. During Thursday’s arraignment, Epps started moaning, then laughing as the judge read the charges against him. Epps then talked back to the judge and began shouting.

It is not clear who the dead person is, the coroner needs to finish an autopsy and other tests, including comparing dental records.

Though the victim’s identity hasn’t been revealed by the San Joaquin County coroner yet – brother of suspected victim Veronica Jones was shaken after Epps’ bizarre tirades in court.  “I’m kinda at a loss right now with what I witnessed with Devon’s behavior – screaming at the judge, talking to apparently nobody, you know with the outbursts and just yelling at the air,” said Isaac Zuniga.

You can watch previous interviews with the family here.

After Epps was escorted from the downtown Stockton courtroom, Judge Stephenson cited three different years – 1999, 2003 and 2005 — that the suspect’s mental competency was called into question while he was under parole supervision.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa told FOX40 he believes Epps’ was putting on a show and not having a mental break during Thursday’s proceedings.

“Legal insanity is a very high bar. I see nothing that shows, from what I can tell right now, that he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong,” Testa said.

The proceedings were suspended until December 13th pending the outcome of a mental health evaluation. The Judge set his bail at $2 million.

BodyAptSTOCKTON-

Stockton Police are investigating after a corpse was found in the apartment building at 517 Channel Street Monday.

Stockton Police have not yet confirmed if the death is the result of a homicide. However, they are investigating it as a possible homicide because of what they told FOX40 were “suspicious circumstances”.

The coroner says an autopsy will need to be done before a cause of death can be determined.

If it is a homicide, it would make this the most violent year in that city since they started keeping homicide records. It would be Stockton’s 56th homicide, topping the previous grim record of 55, set back in 1992.

But the woman who was found dead Monday morning may have died months ago.

“This body was old. It’s been there a long time,” said Mike, the man who identified himself as the apartment manager. He asked us not to use his last name.

Mike said that Sunday night he evicted the tenant who’d been living in the apartment, and that he discovered the corpse Monday morning.

“Open up the bathroom, and that’s when I saw the corpse with the feet sticking out,” he said. “In the bathroom lying next to the tub.”

Detectives were still processing the apartment for evidence late Monday night and into Tuesday morning. While they worked, windows were kept opened to the cold night air, ostensibly to get the smell out of the unit.

It is reportedly not the first time police responded to that address, and contacted the tenant.

“I can recall six times calling the police that he had been screaming and yelling, at this body I guess, like it was still alive,” Mike said.

Police were reportedly never able to gain access to the unit.

The tenant was identified as Devon Epps according to Police, officers are looking for him now.

Meanwhile, as FOX40 was broadcasting the macabre details of this crime scene Monday night, the family of a missing Stockton woman arrived. Having seen our reports, they believed that the victim is a relative.

35-year-old Veronica Jones went missing this summer, and reportedly lived with a man at the same apartment building prior to her disappearance.

“I knew exactly where that apartment was. When FOX40 started showing it from camera angles… I knew immediately it was her,” said Isaac Zuniga, Jones’ brother.

He says he the last time he saw his 35-year-old sister was in May. He also says the family knew she was dating a man named Devon Epps.

As for the reports that Epps had been living with a corpse, potentially Veronica’s, Zuniga says it’s hard to think about.

“It’s inhuman, and it’s sickening,” he said.

Ian McDonald contributed to this report.

JonesSTOCKTON-

An arrest in the case of a woman found badly decomposed in a bathtub has given some solace to the family that believes their loved one is the victim, but the family is also critical of the Stockton Police Department.

Devon Epps, 26, was arrested Tuesday night and taken to jail on homicide charges. A day earlier, a corpse was discovered inside an apartment on Channel Street in Stockton.

The family of missing woman Veronica Jones is all but certain that it is their loved one who was found dead in the apartment.

Isaac Zuniga says he last saw his sister at a family function on May 28. He says his sister was at the function with Epps. After not hearing from Jones for a few weeks, Zuniga says the family reported Jones missing.

Zuniga feels that police could have done more to follow up on leads pertaining to Epps.

“We believe they could have done so much more in regards to finding my sister and hopefully keeping her alive,” said Zuniga.

The Stockton Police Department says it cannot comment on the Jones case because she is still a missing person as far as they are concerned. The body found in the apartment has not been officially identified by the coroner.

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